Tag Archives: lighting design

Time to Re-think Downlights

“What more do I need to know about downlights?”, you might ask. We all use them on a regular basis – what more is there to learn? Increasingly we have transferred our love of halogen to LED as the availability of conventional light sources has faded away. In this transfer to LED, must we change the way we use downlights in room design?

Four things that top interior designers do with LED downlights:

Use fewer downlights

    – in reality they are an over-used tool. There is a temptation to flood a space with light. Lighting down from a ceiling is very effective and a ceiling has lots of space for fittings – so it is easy to achieve. However I do advocate (that as often as possible) you must try to light something physical with a downlight rather than just space!

  1. Nobu-downlight-gridAvoid the ubiquitous row or grid of ceiling spots that are so tempting sometimes to position and install. Position a light fitting where we need the light. That may mean we have lights in the ceiling that are not neatly lined up – but that needn’t be a concern as the eye will see the light before it sees the fitting. In some instances the client may demand symmetry in the ceiling and they wish to avoid a peppering of holes. Solve this by choosing fittings that double or triple the down light source within a ceiling fitting and ensure they are adjustable.
    They effectively throw light into the space in various directions
  2. recessed_square_image_twin_03from a single point. Select a recessed fitting that sinks into the ceiling and is as unobtrusive as possible. This type of fixture often has a black recess but we have stocks of fittings available with white to lose them in a white ceiling.
  3. Use a downlight with beam width options. The results are worth the effort – variety is the spice of life and this can apply to our lighting. A short cut to remember is to specify a wider beamed light for the fittings around the perimeter of a room, so the light will wash down the wall a little and push those walls back – and tighten the pools of light inside the room so that the lighting is defined and not simply washed everywhere
  4. main-photoMake the transition from low voltage halogen to LED with care. Be mindful of the transition between the light sources and be aware of the comparative lumens levels (strength of light) between the old and the new technologies. Mains halogen = approx 450 lumens
    LV halogen = approx 900 lumens
    Gauge your choice of LED within these boundaries for the desired result between task and ambient.
    You will not need a large number of LED downlights to replace an existing halogen scheme. LED lamps are not achieving the LV equivalent in terms of power, but you should ask the question – “…do you really require a 900+ lumens level punch from a light?”.

Spotlight on COB


Chances are that you will be presented with a Chip On Board LED light any time now. As a designer you might understandably shrink from yet another wave of semi-conductor technology. After all, your job is to strip bare the rhetoric and specify lights that have both a functional and an aesthetic application.

The good news is that is why we are here – to filter the useful information from the blizzard of less than useful techno-blag. The even better news is that COB technology does offer the designer real advantages!

In the beginning…..

There was the classic LED – with wire leads in a cylindrical reflector package –known as a T-Pack. One LED, one colour – some came with and some without heat dissipation.

Then came SMD LEDs (Surface-Mounted Device). These LEDs hide wire connections.

They are directly soldered on a printed circuit board.

The latest generation of high-power LEDs is characterized by COB (Chip On Board) manufacturing. Numerous tiny semiconductor chips (LEDs) are mounted on a flat circuit board and covered by a common singular phosphor coating – creating an ‘array’.

So what is all the fuss about?

Ppx New COB SlideFinal-918Due to the small size of the LED chip, Chip-on-Board technology allows for a much higher packing density than surface mount technology. This results in higher intensity & greater visual uniformity for the user, no more clusters of dots often seen on early LED lamps.
Benefit: Compactness due to small size of chip High-Intensity, particularly at close distance.

By spreading the smaller LEDs over a wider surface area COB LED lights arguably provide a light that is easier on the eye, as the single point source is broader. A softer radiance is a key consideration for interior design where we find some LEDs are just too stimulating to the eye.

Benefit: Softer radiance.

COB-LED-Packaging-chip-on-board-COB-LED-module-10Watt-LCOB50-BThe mounting of the tiny chips directly on the substrate give added thermal benefits which is good news for longevity and performance. It is a method of LED packaging which has a number of advantages over traditional surface mount technologies such as the use of “T-pack” and Surface mount LEDs.

Benefit: Superior Thermal Performance for better lifetime, stability and reliability.

The figure on the left illustrates the differences in the number of LEDs that can be placed on a 10X10mm square and the resulting power output of the array.

As you can see, by using COB technology, the number of LEDs is 38 times higher than T-Pack technology and 8.5 times higher than surface mount technology, improving the brightness significantly.

Does this replace other technologies – such as remote phosphor? No – it’s another choice that should be weighed up by it’s own merits – including cost. However the new technology is delivered without a significant price disadvantage.

Never forget important issues over quality remain – when choosing all formats of LED, colour consistency, longevity, colour temperature and lumen levels are just as relevant as before. Remember to ask the manufacturer and avoid the bottom of the market!

VIDEO: 5 Tips on Kitchen Lighting

In this short video Andrew delivers 5 tips you must consider when designing your next kitchen scheme. We encounter bouncing light, task and work top downlights, accent and plinth lighting. Breathe fresh inspiration into your kitchen design by using these innovative tools!

The kitchen is the heart of the home and with so many now open plan and part of a wider family room, the lighting has never been more important to get right.

In this short video Andrew gives you 5 great tips on where to start when designing your lighting scheme for a domestic kitchen.

1. Light the ceiling where you can  – bouncing light at 4000K colour temperature will lighten the space, particularly during the day

2. Areas of preparation needed higher levels of light – aiming for around 500 lux by running warm white fluorescents or strips of high output LED under wall cabinets if you have them is always successful. 

3. Downlights – are a great way to bring in much needed higher levels of illumination – so position them in line of the edge of worktops. 3000K colour temperature suits kitchens perfectly.

4. Create an accent light – consider the lower level of illumination to transform your space from more functional to atmospheric. Try adding pendants or table lights.

5. Kitchens become backdrops at night in open plan living areas – Use plinth lights  on separate circuits to use the space itself as an accent light for the family room.

A Glaring Mistake


It’s that age old problem that bites us when we least expect (and cruelly) during the final installation phase of a project. For all of us who specify and design lighting – glare is a real problem – the need to provide sufficient light onto an object with the minimal amount of discomfort to the user’s eyes.Arguably the best lighting is where the cast of light is seen and not the source. However, unless completely shielded – light will inevitably be bright at source and likely to shine glare into the eye. Spotlighting is an application where designers have to be particularly careful.

Top tips to minimise glare if a fixture isn’t concealed:


1. Ensure the beam angle of the fitting isn’t unnecessarily wide – This avoids
extraneous light hitting the eye and directs light only to where it is required.

2. Choose a lamp or source (typically an LED) that is recessed into the fitting. How? Use a baffled fixture – which has a short tube/cylinder construction (typically black) – by sinking the source deeper into the fitting the spill of light is minimised

3. Add a snoot – Odd word for another tube added onto the front of a spotlight. This deepens the source thus hiding it further – reducing the angle of light that may trouble users vision.


4. Add a honeycomb louvre – Some fixtures provide the option for this – simply hiding the source from the eye at a wider viewing angle.

5. Be aware of unprotected LED chips behind lenses – The current trend
toward the miniaturisation of fixtures utilising LED’s small proportions brings with it a potential downside. Maximum output is achieved if the bare LED is behind a lens but it’s very harsh to the eye and must be used with care.

Lastly – if in doubt – dim the fitting but that is only supplementary and not a fundamental fix.

When you specify and purchase lights from us – this advice is all part of the extra value service we offer all our clients. So if you wish to light your next project with total confidence – call us and we will be happy to help!

Control: the next big thing?


In this intensely technological era of lighting – it is essential to keep abreast of developments. I joined the thousands of other techno pilgrims in the annual visit to Lux Live at Earls Court. Out of the hundreds of exhibits – what did I take away?

Over recent years we have been spoiled – enjoying constant waves of new innovations. We may have become almost blasé about it. There are improvements too and tweaks to what has become standard kit – LED downlights, lamps etc. The shocking reality is – that if you were hunting for CFL or other light sources – you would have been hard pressed to find anything among the exhibits. A huge shift to LED is plainly evident.

Control BannerTaking Control
What captured my attention is the growing number of management systems that enable us to control our lit environment. Technology now aims to deliver just the right amount of light to keep us happy and healthy. The years ahead will take us a step beyond mere concerns about functional illumination – it is going holistic!

These are just some of the highlights:

1. We liked Photonstar’s exciting ‘Halcyon’ colour changing lamp system – a more grown up alternative to the Philips Hue (review in a future update) where natural circadian body rhythms can be enhanced easily through the use of light in the home or workplace – and with an open API to allow budding IT developers to create their own mobile Apps to maximise it’s potential.

2. What caught my attention most was a new development claimed as the future of lighting control – allowing sophisticated retrospective control of an existing lighting system without extensive rewiring or builders work. With over 40% of commercial electricity consumption in the UK due to lighting, it is the single highest contributing item on an energy bill. With 75% of all commercial lighting left uncontrolled – there is HUGE potential for savings through lighting control systems which are increasingly easy to install.

There are now a number of web based wireless control monitoring and management systems available. They give users the freedom to commission, configure and completely control their own lighting to maximise energy savings and reduce their emissions – all from a web page viewed on whatever device suits.

3. Enocean wireless (and battery-less) switches are another reminder of the inexorable progress of change. This is a low profile switch that has no wires and no power required to control it. Simply pressing of the switch generates the signal to communicate to the receiver hidden behind the ceiling – allowing you the freedom to place it wherever you wish.

and there are more…

If you need retain control over the welter of lighting innovation or need to navigate through the current alternatives, Orange lighting are here to enable you to make the right decision based upon a tried and tested approach. Call us and we will advise you when it is safe to take a technological leap!

What low Watts? – Wattage Comparisons

shock that LED peer consumption is so lowIt is poignant to reflect on the low adoption of LED currently. Figures of a mere 7% have been published which seem to poorly serve the huge benefits offered by the technology. Certainly these results do not match my everyday experience of a growing client base of new converts. However there are those who resist change – no more so than ‘end user’ clients themselves; many of whom seem to wish to cling on to the familiar. Ask any high street electrical store and they will show you their ‘under the counter’ stock of incandescent bulbs!

So what is the reason behind this resistance? Well the answer is blinking obvious! People need a reference point to transfer from the familiar to the unfamiliar – yet manufacturers and promoters of LED have been slow to provide this guidance.

Historically we have always looked at the wattage of a lamp; the amount of power it requires to assess it’s size – and output.

GLS lamps all have a filament that is heated, requiring more energy to make them burn brighter. However this makes no comparative sense when selecting LED. By its very nature LED requires a much lower wattage to function. The practice of using wattage to measure LED output has to stop – it is effectively a barrier to understanding.

Time to change
LED light sources are much more efficient at converting watts to lumens. Different materials can be used within the LED sources themselves, each of which has its own light extraction efficacy. For these and other reasons, two different LED sources can consume the same number of watts but differ widely in lumen output.

Lumen output – the amount of light that is leaving the fitting is the only sensible metric.Megman-for-web-shotFor instance on lighting packaging you often see 1 x 3W LED specified on a fitting in a catalogue – where is the lumens figure to guide us? Additionally, how can I tell how many of those lumens are going to fall where I need them? Hence we cannot rely solely on wattage, as other factors play a part including the lens and the driver.What do we do?
In terms of explanation, I convert client understanding to lumens by stating that the lumen level of a 60 watt incandescent bulb is roughly 700 lumens – then we can happily benchmark our comparison with LED in terms that everyone can understand! Using charts like the one above are invaluable.

Footnote: The lumen output is our best guide – but if we are really getting to grips with this topic then lumens only is not an accurate measurement across all fittings – but we’ll cover that another time.

Whatever the confusion caused by LED – planning, specifying or installing – call us and we will be able to guide you through the alternatives that fit your requirements.

5 Tips on How to Calculate Lighting Beam Widths

Now – is this solely the territory for the lighting geek OR is this really relevant to you?

It’s actually a key principle to understand to help your lighting designs go from good … to great.

In this short video Andrew gives you 5 practical tips to aid you in this process.

1. Choose what you are lighting – is it simply the floor or a piece of furniture or maybe an architectural element?

2. Light spreads increasingly wider the further it leaves it’s source – so how wide would you ideally want the spread of light to go by the time it hits the lit surface?

3. Calculate the distance – between light source and that surface.

4. Now draw to scale – this distance with the source at one side and the rough desired spread on the other.

Draw a line from the source to the edges of the desired lit width – the angle between these two lines is our chosen beam width.

5. Now select a lamp or fixture – with a beam width as close as possible to that value.

Remember too that light is also used and chosen to highlight objects all along it’s pathway

For example – if you use a floor light to uplight a column – you’ll want to keep the beam width tight and follow the line of the architecture from the moment it leaves the source carefully considering how wide it will spread along it’s path.

Another great benefit to purposefully choosing your angles of light also helps combat the glare that light can bring to the eye.

So let’s start taking control and next time you choose your lighting – not only think of us here at Orange Lighting – but consider those beam widths.

Walkover LED in situ

Lighting at a Human Level

A successful lighting scheme for any interior will have a variety of factors that contribute to it’s appeal. A key one which must be included is creating pockets of light that are at a human level.

What do I mean?

All good lighting designs are made up of layers of light, light at physically different levels and different levels of intensity.

Broadly speaking I make sure there is illumination on the ceiling or at the ceiling, light at a low level and light in the middle – at our height.

It’s easy to forget to do this if we rely upon downlights for our main source of light. The problem with downlights only is that they bring all the light from above which becomes one dimensional and unflattering.

We need light at our level, at a human level, to illuminate us in a more flattering way.

So what are some of the ways to do this?

An obvious one is a wall light, typically positioned at about head height but what if the interior doesn’t suit wall lights or there isn’t any space for them?

We have to be more cunning and throw light into our space. It could be washing a wall from a downlight where the reflected light bounces down to us.

It could be a floor mounted uplighter in a doorway, where the light catches against the architrave or up the wall.

1.5m high floor lights do the job well too. Think about illuminating shelving too as they bring an opportunity to position light at our level.

You might find it helpful to picture light as wrapping itself around us and a key to success is to do so from a variety of directions to bring a balance. Do remember that as users of a space surely we should be lit well too?

(some images used for demonstration purposes only, these are not Orange Lighting projects. Credit to SHH for some of them)

Scouring for Bathrooms

Ever since the days I worked with Kevin McCloud there has been one recurring question. That is apart from “is Kevin a nice bloke to work with” and “is he the same as on the tele?”. No the consistent question is “where can I find a good selection of bathroom lights to choose for a project?”

Fact is the the mere letters IP44 seem to put both designers and specifiers in a spin! Certainly bathroom lights are seldom at the fore of lighting ranges and often suffer from less ambition when it comes to the design of the fitting. True – like the design of the space itself, bathroom need a subtle and sophisticated approach. However the safety rating needn’t hamper inspiration!

So in creating ip44.com I have scoured the planet surface to find the aesthetic and the functional. Its a pleasing eclectic exercise and it brings reward in the appreciation of all designers struggling with bathrooms and outdoor fixtures in a hotel, office or domestic scheme.

Remember I am happy to offer advice to anyone who needs push the boundaries of current fixture offerings. After all, the success of a lighting schemes is governed by an awareness of what is available – at the right budget and at the right quality. The service is free – we just ask you (naturally) to buy the lights from us!

Here are examples from the current IP44.com lighting world. If you don’t see a perfect fit for your current project – remember give me a brief and I’ll source one from the (ironically) dark and mysterious world of lighting!!